Certain songs were written for you. It’s not a self-important claim or a reflective embellishment. They really were, written to connect with you, dissect with you and to keep you company. They’re the type of discernible songs Jacob Banks sits down to pen alone. And they’ve taken him around the world in an attempt to find you.

The Birmingham-based rising star delivers his bluesy offerings in a deep, rumbling soulful voice that seems as if it could be only be rooted by the weight of the world. It's what the 26-year-old talent is most renowned for, as both fans and music legends have caught on to his undeniable gifts through acclaimed EPs like The Paradox and The Boy Who Cried Freedom. And why Timbaland recently released a remix of Banks' latest powerhouse single ‘Unknown (To You)’ - a revisit to a poignant heartbreak hymn that also acts as the first release from his forthcoming debut album The Village.

But Jacob’s most powerful ability is his capacity to connect. That's what he's always been in it for.

The last time we really spoke, you were celebrating the success of The Paradox EP but despite all the excitement, you were really just enjoying life watching The Amazing World of Gumball with your cats. But from where it looks, life has changed a lot for you since then.

Actually, I pretty much do the exact same thing. Just new music. But I still watch The Amazing World of Gumball and I’m still with my cats. Still loads of jerk chicken.

I do know that there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes for you for a while as you figured out the next steps of your career, whether that was signing to a label or what not. Which means you were sitting on a lot of your new music for a while. How does it feel to finally be able to release that music in person on a global level through your tour and festival slots after holding it in for so long?

I’m literally performing songs that I made in my bedroom on stage every day. I’m having an incredible time with a bunch of incredible people. I’m just grateful to be privileged to be able to express myself. If I keep making things that I’m proud of, whether it goes global or local or just my street, or even if only my cats hear it, I’ll always be proud of what I’ve done because I know I put my heart and soul in it. The more friends I acquire along the way, the happier I’ll be, but there will always have to be a bassline of happiness. I’m happy enough just making stuff that I love. Everything past that point is a bonus. Going global and having the world pay attention is just a massive bonus. I’m already proud of what I’ve made and the people I’ve made it with. It’s a good pat on the back that we’re doing stuff that makes sense to us and it’s good to be reminded every once in a while that we’re going the right way.

For those that have been paying attention from the beginning, they’ll recognize Unknown (To You) was actually 'Unknown' from The Paradox EP, which then went viral thanks to Power. It has now been reworked and repackaged as this emotional powerhouse single. What was the process for you of deciding to take a step back with the single to redeliver it now?

For many reasons, whether it’s a selfish side because I just felt like I could have given more. Just as a duty to myself, I just feel like I should always put my best foot forward given that the space and the team and who I was when the original team was done, I felt like I didn’t get to impose my own will on it as much as I would have liked to. Secondly, I think overtime, songs take new meanings. What the song means to me now, isn’t what it meant to me before. So, I’m very keen on mimicking the energy of the song when delivering the song, so every time I perform the song, it was taking on a new form for me. So, I just wanted to put out a version that mimicked the way I love the song now. I might make it a thing that any of my songs take on a new form, I want to put an alternative version. Because, I do that anyway, with my music videos. I always give a new perspective of my songs. I love songs to have multiple meanings. I might just make it a thing.

Even the symbolism of you doing that made so much sense with the song, because to me, it was about moving on from people and things that once meant so much to you. We live in a fast-paced time anyway, but you still can’t forget what you once loved or had an impact on you – whether that’s art or a former love.

Yeah, deffo.

Congrats on the Timbaland remix of the track. That’s not only a huge deal but I can now listen to the song in public without ugly crying. How did it come together?

For me, it’s a massive ego boost amongst my friends. No one can chat shit to me for like six months. What you’ve done and what you’ve achieved, you ain’t shit until you’ve got Timbaland on your song. As a kid, Timbaland was a massive part of my childhood from Missy to Aaliyah, Busta Rhymes and all my favourite artists of that generation were spawns of Timbaland. So to have him want to come and be a part of the journey, the fourteen-year-old version of me is screaming out for joy.

As you should. But you must have a ton of more music in the vault. So tell me about The Village. What can fans expect from this three-part journey that you’re planning on taking them on?

I’ve been working on it for about a year now. A year time-wise, but about six months of that I’ve been able to get in the studio. For me, The Village is a fulltime job. It’s based on the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” and I’ve had to learn and unlearn so much about myself in the process. Every conversation that I have, I try to talk more to people and learn so much about myself when I speak to people. It’s a very intimate and personal one. It’s personal because I wanted to keep people company. I want people to find a little bit of themselves in me. That’s why I’m putting it out in three chapters. It’s heavy. There are happy moments but there are low moments. It’s a bunch of short stories of my life and the things that I’ve had to let go of, or endure or welcome. It’s been fun but exhausting in a good way, as well.

And the album is slated to celebrate the two sides of you – being born in Nigeria and then moving and growing up in the UK. Since both of those narratives revolve around region, will your production sonically reflect those places?

Yeah, definitely. The sonics pull on the fact that I’m African but also British. I was also raised to be a civil engineer. So it pulls on many different sides of me. And I try to collect those sides quite well. I’m just showing you a quarter of who I am if I have to choose just one. There are lots of African sonics there is the west-indian culture of reggae and dub in some, there are some songs with me and the piano articulating things in a different way. There are songs that are just pure oldschool afrobeats. I’ve found a way to make it all make sense. Nothing is too far-fetched. It’s just a mix and blend of everything that I love and everything that makes me me. I just can’t wait to share it really.

And that’s coming soon?

Yeah. I think March. March you should at least have the first chapter.

In terms of the multi-part roll-out, I was reading that awesome Paper Magazine interview where you said that artists can really be slaves to the album system and how it’s all about numbers. So for you, what measures success?

Success, for me, is respect. To be respected by people, not music people, just day to day people. The people that will allow you to be their friend through music. Success for me is when those people pay money to come to shows and spend their time with you on a Monday evening in Switzerland. That’s success to me. Genuinely connecting with people based on mutual respect. The reason I’m changing that system is, I want people to digest the music at their own pace. We’re often throwing music at people and they don’t time. I can’t ask for an hour of your day. People have stuff to do. They’ll just take the best songs and run off and leave the rest. So, I just want to slow down the process a bit, just so I can connect with people a lot more. That’s what success to me is, connection.